The highly anticipated games from the world’s most popular franchise, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have a lot to prove. Will they be able to escape the recent criticism of the franchise?
Pokemon Firered and Leafgreen were the first remakes in the Pokemon franchise. At the time it was believed that those games existed so that players could own all the original 151 Pokemon in the third generation games. As far as the games were concerned, they were pretty solid affairs, receiving rave reviews and fixing most of what was wrong about the original Pokemon Red and Blue.
Pokemon Red and Blue weren’t perfect games by any means. The balancing was all off, with Psychic being an all-powerful type, and Bug, Poison, and Flying were next to useless. The game also had too many Poison-type Pokemon, with just 3 Pokemon each from the Dragon and Ghost typings. The moves you could use in battle also sucked, and their distribution was even worse. Good moves were few and far between, while the awful moves dominated the game.
And the bugs, oh my god, the bugs. If we were to talk about them, it would take us the entire length of this article, and then two more. Suffice it to say that Pokemon Firered and Leafgreen fixed all these issues, and added some newer features from the second and third-generation games. They had some issues of their own, with the national Pokedex only being available in the post-game being a particular bone of contention.
Still, they added tremendously to the original game and improved them a lot. The same can be said about Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, and Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Both of them made some much-needed changes to the original games and ported them to a console with much more power. That gave them a much-needed face-lift. HeartGold and SoulSilver are also seen as some of the best games in the entire franchise, which I personally disagree with but they are still fantastic games.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl look to be doing neither of these things.
The fourth generation of Pokemon, which started with Diamond & Pearl in 2007 and ended with HeartGold and SoulSilver in 2009 was arguably more popular than the first generation. It was the first generation to be coming out in a console not called the GameBoy, and the first games that weren’t completely 2D. They had high hopes attached to them.
They somewhat delivered with those games. There were still some issues, with a limited Pokedex having just 5 Fire-type Pokemon, and slow as a Snorlax gameplay. Still, for their first go at the new console, Gamefreak knocked it out of the park. The changes to the physical and special moves, the Sinnoh region, and the new Pokemon were all phenomenal. And then, Gamefreak did something even more amazing. They fixed everything that was wrong with Pokemon Diamond and Pearl the next year, with Pokemon Platinum.
Pokemon Platinum is arguably the closest Gamefreak ever came to perfection, (Black and White 2 are still better, Fight me.) with everything that was wrong about Diamond and Pearl now not being an issue at all. No Fire types? Well, take Magmortar, Houndoom, and Flareon. Slow Gameplay? Well, here’s faster surfing and a reconfigured Exp and Health Bar. Bad Story? Here’s the distortion world. No Post-game? Have the Battle Frontier back.
Pokemon Platinum is also what makes the existence of Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl nearly pointless.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl – What Seems Wrong?
With the Trailer and Gameplay footage that we have seen already, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl don’t look very different from Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Let’s talk about it.
The Chibi art style that was used in the original DS era games was a product of its times, as it was mostly used because of the hardware limitations of the console. There were plans to originally give the player characters more emotive faces, which wasn’t possible then. As soon as it became possible via the power of the Nintendo 3DS, Gamefreak moved away from the Chibi style.
Now that it’s back again in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, it looks more like a regression than a throwback. Moreover, it makes the remakes look very much like the original games. Say what you want about Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, even if they didn’t have the Battle Frontier and didn’t remake Pokemon Emerald, they at least had their own aesthetic, which Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl lack.
Now, about the supposed improvements. What can Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl do that Platinum didn’t? Even if it does fix some problems Diamond and Pearl had, those problems were already gone by the time Platinum came along. It would bring Fairy types to Diamond and Pearl, but that’s mostly it, looking at Gamefreak’s current practices.
Gamefreak appeared to change their entire business model with the release of Pokemon Sword and Shield DLC, the Isle of Armor, and Crown Tundra. This seems to be the way that they plan to move forward with the franchise, whether it is a good or bad thing is a topic for another time. Although, this does seem to indicate that Third Games, like Pokemon Emerald and Pokemon Platinum, now look like things from the past.
Now, let’s talk about the Elephant in the Room. I have been deliberately ignoring this from the start because I don’t want to imply that ILCA inc will be the reason that Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are going to be disappointing. But the fact remains that Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are as of now the only core series Pokemon games not to be developed by Gamefreak Studios.
Granted, Gamefreak doesn’t have the best track record after the failures of Sword and Shield either, and ILCA inc. has worked on Pokemon Home before, yet Pokemon has always gone where Gamefreak has taken it, which has brought them this much success, to begin with.
Forgive me for calling a spade a spade here, but Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl just don’t look as good as the previous remakes. The improvements aren’t nearly as visible, and the Chibi art style dates the entire game by a lot. ILCA also seems to have wasted the entire power of the Nintendo Switch, for the games do not look as heavy as the previous entries.
All is not lost, though. Gamefreak and ILCA had tons of time to improve the game between the unveiling and release, and hopefully, they listened to the fans. The game will also sell by the truckload, as all Pokemon games do. We just hope that this doesn’t make Gamefreak complacent, as they seem to be hedging all their bets on Pokemon Legends: Arceus. That’s also a topic for another time, though.
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Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are available for the Nintendo Switch from November 19. Pre-Order the games here.